David Brin has written a fascinating exploration of the nostalgic character of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, which Brin ties to the Romantic backlash against the Enlightenment. The dialectic of Romanticism and Enlightenment, of pining for the good old days vs. looking forward to the future, of nostalgia vs. progress, is eternally fascinating. Most people and authors and philosophies and movements combine both aspects, usually in an uneasy balance of forces that will sometimes explode into atavism or (less frequently) a burst of forward progress. Brin argues well that we live in what is essentially but quietly an Enlightenment culture, but that we don't recognize it and that we mistakenly idealize older times (and medievalist fictions like those of Tolkien), perhaps at our peril. Thought-provoking stuff.
Peter Saint-Andre > Journal